Tabla Bols

What is a bol? Every stroke or sound on tabla has a corresponding word, which is called a bol. The student learns through the recitation of bols, or syllables, and thus establishes a deep aural connection between the words, the strokes, and the sound produced. These bols are combined to form phrases and whole compositions. This system of learning has existed for centuries in India and is not only an extremely effective way of absorbing and memorising material, but it is fundamental to the tabla player's thought processes and understanding.

It is because of the bol system that both hands can coordinate such complex rhythmic and melodic material. It unites the hands, it unites the mind and body, and it unites one deeply to the music itself. Through the bol system, one may hear tabla being played, (or any rhythm) and be able to instinctively convert the sound back into words, which may instantly be played on tabla. Whole phrases become recognizable, even at high speed.

Another wonderful means by which to internalize the musical form with or without the instrument, is to learn each time cycle or taal along with it's corresponding clapping pattern, and to use the Indian system of counting on the fingers.

Glen is an experienced and inspiring tabla teacher. He is currently giving tabla lessons at his home in Muko-shi, Kyoto. Tabla lessons are open to students of all ages, ranging from beginning to advanced levels. Glen takes an enjoyable, creative and flexible approach to all lessons, which are practically based and aimed at increasing the student's confidence and proficiency. Each student is different, therefore lessons proceed at the student's own pace and are tailored according to their needs, in a nurturing and relaxed atmosphere.

Glen recognizes that whilst some students are deeply interested in Indian classical music and wish to learn the different roles of tabla within that idiom, others prefer to take a modern approach and mix tabla outside of the Indian music context. Glen enjoys working with the student to direct them to their goals.

To contact Glen about performances or tabla lesson bookings, please click here.



Learning traditional tabla

Tabla has two main roles in Indian music, it is either used for rhythmic accompaniment, or it may take centre stage in "tabla lehera" ( tabla solo). These are two quite different approaches to tabla, though they do overlap in many ways. For instance, it is essential to learn solo repertoire to develop technique and to help one to acquire sufficient depth for playing accompaniment. To establish the basic foundation for either of these roles, the student begins by learning the different "Taals", or time cycles used in Indian classical music. Then there is the "Theka" or rhythmic pattern for each given Taal, which is played on tabla.

In addition to this foundation, the student may learn compositions from the vast ocean of solo tabla repertoire, such as Peshkar, Kaida, Rela, Tukra, Gat, and Chakradar. These are taught with detailed care and attention to technical precision and clarity of tone, and with clear insights into the methods of improvisation within the "theme and variation" compositional types. Through focused practicing of this material, the student acquires proficiency and discovers their own unique musicality, expressed through a highly refined and beautiful system of improvisation and composition. With this combined practical knowledge of materials, the tabla student is then equipped to play tabla in a variety of different traditional situations.




Lessons for non-tabla players

Vocalists who are interested to integrate the spoken language of tabla into their own music are welcome to have lessons, as are instrumentalists who wish to understand the rhythmic compositions and structures of North Indian Classical music.



Gharana means "household", or family tradition. In Northern India there evolved six main gharanas of tabla playing; Delhi, Ajrara, Lucknow, Farukhabad, Benaras and Punjab. There are differences in playing technique, fingerings, tone production, repertoire, and methods of improvisation from one gharana to another, though some are more closely related than others.  Glen has focussed on both the Delhi gharana of tabla, and the Benaras gharana of tabla. He encourages the student to begin in one style and systematically develop their tabla technique and repertoire step by step, learning in the traditional aural manner. Speaking of gharana and family tradition, here are a few photos of Glen and his son Kai, who is soaking up all the tabla music in the home! Also, Kai receiving blessings from Ustad Zakir Hussain. (Check out Zakir's disciple Ty Burhoe)








Student testimonials
Lesson fees & teaching schedule

Please see the table of fees below.

Glen's teaching schedule is reasonably flexible. Please click here to contact Glen and arrange a suitable lesson time.

(Please also note that there are no registration or joining fees or any other hidden costs.)

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